Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reflections On the 6 Film Projects

The projects below are ranked from one to six with one being the lowest ranking and a six being the highest positive ranking. There are no duplicate numbers so a one is a relative ranking that does not mean it was a horrible filmmaking experience.

1.  I truly enjoyed the segment where we experimented with camera-less filmmaking. It was a great way to expand the concept of filmmaking and its limitations. This project is probably unlike any type of filmmaking we will encounter in the movie-making business, but it will allow us to add this type of expression to our films when this effect is needed. Also, it represents another direction filmmaking can take; after all, filmmakers like Stan Brackage have made non-digital editing an integral part of their style as artists. 4

2.  I also enjoyed creating the rhythmic edit film. It provided a new exploration of film to create the illusion of visible sound (a synesthesia effect). This exercise also helps demystify the editing of a music video by taking rhythmic editing to the extreme. Finally, something that requires such a large amount of precise cutting is excellent editing practice. 5

3. The multi-plane filmmaking exercise was intimidating for me at first because I hear the word animation and start to get nervous. Animation is great and can free the artist greatly, but I have lost more sleep over animation than over any other aspect of filmmaking. After this project, I realized that this type of animation is not half as labor intensive as I thought and it creates a charming tone. Also, requiring us to have individual soundscapes made sure that we have the ability to create a full soundtrack alone, further expanding our editing/sound design skills. 3

4. The crowdsourcing assignment was incredibly time consuming but this might be because my group included multiple takes that had to be edited down to precisely timed clips. It was fun to figure out ways to show complex ideas using only our bodies and cardboard and this forced us to think creatively (like using cardboard to cast shadows that look fairly realistic). However, I feel that the time requirements were a bit redundant after making the rhythmic film and it was a bit much to pile on top of the other technical requirements. I wish we could have been given more freedom in the number of concepts we showed and were able to focus on specific concepts more fully. The sheer quantity of short scenes was a bit daunting for summer. 2

5. The long-take was one of my favorite assignments because it created a piece with a very specific artistic tone and made us more familiar with what it is like to work with physical film. It also illustrated just how many frames of footage go into a film in a way that is vividly memorable. This understanding can help a digital filmmaker feel more of a connection to the roots of editing and what is actually occurring on the editing room floor.  6

6. The 3-D project was another difficult project for the summer. We ran out of shooting time because it took a while to rig our cameras to function in the manner they should. Maybe this should be one of those days where class runs late or starts early. Once in the editing room we lost most of our storyline and pretty much all of our story-arc because of technical difficulties in lining up the image correctly.  This was quite frustrating and made the concept seem more dense than it should. In the future, this would be a better assignment to do outside. I would also have enjoyed a bit more practice with the concept, once again, a few extra hours would have been helpful. I understand that this is mainly due to the nature of summer classes. 1

Overall, I really enjoyed this course. It expanded my creativity and my understanding of the scope of filmmaking. There is no project that we completed that I would remove from the course. Each project taught me unique filmmaking concepts that went beyond the realm of hollywood style filmmaking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rough Theater

The concept of "rough theater" is exactly what it sounds like. Namely, it is theater that is organic and a bit rough around the edges. The beauty of this type of theater lies in its intimacy, an audience sitting in a pristine palace looking at an opera through binoculars does not experience the raw reality of actors performing in a barn with minimal props other than their unbridled enthusiasm.

But how does this concept translate to film? By creating something that uses film as a medium but does not comply with the rigid rules of Hollywood story structuring, filmmakers are able to bring a roughness back into a art form that can be too perfectly coiffed. With celebrities who can make it through an epic battle with nothing more than a few well placed cuts and tussled hair, there is magic in seeing the humanity in a imperfect rendition of one aspect of the human experience.    

This past semester, after spending countless hours in the editing room, I have come to the conclusion that some editors must realize that they are allowing a few "mistakes" to make it into the final edit. Maybe this is so that cinephiles who are searching for any discontinuity have something to get excited about. It would be pretty hard for anything to slip by an editor but appear noticeably enough for an overzealous critic. But I believe that some editors find joy in emphasizing their media rather than hiding it.

There are many ways to remind a viewer that they are indeed watching a film from including time-codes to showing the boom mic's shadow. Stylized editing also functions to make the media highly visible. There is something that is so refreshing about unpolished creativity. After manipulating film in many ways ranging from camera-less filmmaking to stop-motion, I feel like I have grown to have a broader understanding of what a film can be. Sometimes beauty is in the charred and rough edges of a raw idea.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Acoustic Ecology

We live in a society that continually barrages us with sounds and we don't even notice it. Right now I'm sitting in a quiet room... but is it quiet? I hear the hum of my refrigerator, my sister talking on the phone in the next room, the tapping of keys on my laptop, my dog moving in his sleep, the rhythmic ticking of my fan and the yells of drunk college students off in the distance. It is relatively peaceful... right now. However, tomorrow will be filled with the sounds of automobiles whizzing by blending with my radio and my sister's I-pod, not to mention a host of electronic sounds at my work. Is it possible to know what silence really sounds like without even one appliance whirring in the background? Our minds have become accustomed to a constant blanket of noise; how would an absence of such stimulus affect us?
White torture is a term used to describe the psychological torture of sensory deprivation that results in severe psychosis. Obviously, some acoustic stimuli is beneficial to the human experience. The problem with the level of noise we currently experience is that much of it is electronic and unnatural. Plus, the general level of noise is just too high to be considered healthy. We need an environment that has natural, soft sounds but we live in a society of unnatural droning noises and harsh electronic intonations.
The soundscape association of Japan has compiled a list of the 100 most beautiful soundscapes in Japan and these areas are now protected. This means that a noisy factory or rave club cannot be built next to these sites and destroy the delicate balance of the sounds of nature. As technology advances and more sounds are man-made it would be a good idea to preserve soundscapes all around the world. Eventually, a global movement to limit noise pollution across as many towns as possible could be a healthy solution to the psyche problems that living in such an artificial environment can create.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Crowdsourcing and Film Manipulation

This week I viewed my direct film manipulation which involved drawing, bleaching and scratching film stock to create interesting patterns of color and light during the film screening. It was a really interesting experience to create something that is so unique and unusual. Understanding how film can be manipulated both manually and digitally is incredibly important to a filmmaker because it helps us think beyond current perceived limitations of the media. Hollywood has given filmmakers a language of cinema that is rarely challenged. This viewpoint makes the story structure of a film carry more importance than any other cinematic element but this is only one way to view cinema. If a filmmaker wants to create revolutionary films and achieve critical acclaim then it is important to understand ways to interact with the film media beyond classical film setups and editing. Even if these direct film manipulations are rarely used, perhaps a horror film could be enhanced by purposely scratching a portion of the film. Or a character's insanity could be illustrated by an animation that is drawn onto the film stock by hand. These tricks and techniques can come in handy and can even be used in classic Hollywood avenues by a talented filmmaker to add some spice and zest to his or her films.

Now the class is investigating creative crowdsourcing to generate unique ways of symbolically representing the importance of the number four. Recently, the power of micro financing has generated a lot of attention through sites like Indigogo and Kickstarter. But the concept of crowd creativity is still new. This is probably because it is difficult to read through a ton of creative ideas that are drastically different from each other by nature. But when firm parameters are established, idea crowdsourcing is becoming a new art form that will probably grow in popularity as the process becomes more streamlined through trial and error. offers a type of crowdsourcing where you can pay five dollars to different artists and have them perform different micro-tasks that are simple and can be combined to create a larger project. The internet is helping almost any task or activity become collective if the user decides they want to have multiple perspectives. This is simpler with things like crowdsourcing design elements and choosing the best one, but things get more complicated when something larger (like a film) is created. Different skill levels, tones and styles can create a disjointed story, but the human experience is not always cohesive so this could actually represent the human experience with more authenticity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Link for Media Fast Discussion

Media Fast

*Note: I sing around town and also work as a performance artist so that is what I am referring to when I talk about "taking care of business". I just watched this and realized I look like I'm in the mafia or something by continually referencing business transactions without specifying what I was talking about...